David Pergament
David Pergament. Photo by Alon Ron
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A new ecological system of purification pools to improve water quality in the Yarkon River is to be inaugurated Wednesday, the Yarkon River Authority announced.

The agency also said it may approve boating in a section of the waterway further upstream following what it says is improvement in the quality of the water, which the new system will improve further.

Officials from the Yarkon River Authority, which is chaired by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, yesterday presented the recent improvements in the Yarkon.

"The Yarkon has come back to life," Huldai said, explaining that special facilities now stop polluted water and urban waste from flowing into the Yarkon.

The pools are the second measure over the past year to clean up the river, after improvements in the waste treatment plant operated by the cities of Kfar Sava and Ramat Hasharon, which now channels purified wastewater into the Yarkon.

Starting tomorrow, purified waste will be channeled into the pools before it enters the Yarkon. In these pools, already in the testing stage, various kinds of plants flourish that foster the growth of bacteria that break down pollution.

"This system can also handle pollutants like remnants of pharmaceuticals and can also purify waste in case of a breakdown at the purification plant in Rishon Letzion," Water Authority Director General David Pergament said.

The authority said their testing shows improvement in the water quality, revealed among other criteria by the fact that tilapia have begun to move upstream into one of the Yarkon tributaries, the Kaneh Stream, where pollution had once been too high for fish to survive.

The improvement means the authority will permit boating not only near the Yarkon's outlet to the Mediterranean but also in the area of Seven Mills in Yarkon Park in the west and in the area of the Ramat Gan Stadium in the east. According to Huldai, funding has been earmarked for the next phase of rehabilitating the river - construction of a facility to collect purified wastewater from the stream and channel it to irrigate farmland.

"Today farmers are drawing water right from the stream for irrigation, which reduces the amount of water flowing through it. Their right to the water will be maintained, but they will not take it before it has flowed all they way through the stream."